Steve Clarke challenges Billy Gilmour replacement to make himself Scotland hero

·4-min read

Scotland manager Steve Clarke challenged Billy Gilmour’s replacement to make himself a national hero after the Chelsea midfielder’s positive Covid-19 test caused isolated disruption ahead of their crucial final Euro 2020 group game.

Gilmour’s positive result will force Clarke to rethink his starting line-up after the 20-year-old earned UEFA’s man of the match award on his first international start during Friday’s goalless draw with England.

The blow sparked fears that the Scotland squad might be decimated ahead of the Hampden clash with Croatia on Tuesday, which Scotland must win to retain hopes of progress.

But the only team-mates of Gilmour’s who have been affected are his Chelsea colleagues Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount.

The midfielder was pictured embracing the two England players after the Wembley clash and the pair are isolating as a precaution pending further discussions with Public Health England (PHE).

The remaining 25 members of the Scotland squad all trained on Monday at their base near Darlington and all passed lateral flow tests afterwards, following their negative PCR tests from Sunday.

The squad flew to Glasgow in two planes and have escaped further enforced absences following talks with PHE.

Clarke claimed the news, which means Gilmour must self-isolate for 10 days, had caused “just a little bit” of disruption.

He added: “Obviously training was a little bit disrupted but the bulk of the work has been done over the pre-camp and the training days earlier in the tournament.

“You saw for yourself the team know exactly what they are doing when they get on the pitch. The team has been organised, they know what they have to do, and that will stand us in good stead.

“The only spanner it throws into the works is that Billy would have started the game and now he won’t, so it’s a chance for someone else to come into the team and make themselves a national hero.”

On Gilmour, manager Clarke said: “He’s upset, as you would expect. He has no symptoms, so hopefully his health will hold up and he will get back to playing as quickly as possible.”

Billy Gilmour
Gilmour, right, shields the ball from Chelsea team-mate Mount (Mike Egerton/PA)

When quizzed about the close contacts situation and how Gilmour might have contracted the virus, Clarke said: “It’s not my department. My department is getting the team ready for an absolutely massive game against Croatia and that’s what I have been concentrating on.

“The medical team I have got around me are good people and they deal with that side of the issue.”

Scotland defender Liam Cooper admitted news of Gilmour’s test had come as a shock.

“Billy has just announced himself on the world stage and now this,” the Leeds centre-back said.

Liam Cooper
Scotland defender Liam Cooper (Graham Stuart/PA)

“All I can say is that we are thinking of him. I have had Covid myself and I hope he stays symptom-free and he can recover as quickly as possible.

“I know it’s difficult but I have spoken to him and he is feeling OK. We just send our love to Billy and hope he recovers as quickly as possible.

“We are gutted for Billy but it gives us that little bit more motivation to go and do him proud and hopefully we can get the job done, get the win, and then we can start looking at the other groups as well.”

When asked if it had been a concern that Covid-19 had infiltrated the camp, Cooper said: “It was a shock to us. We stuck to the protocols and then this comes up.

“We just listen to the medical advice. Doc (John) MacLean has been clear and brilliant with us since day one. We have taken precautions around the training camp.

“We are gutted, I am sure he is gutted, but we have got to move on. We have a massive game and one we need to win, and that’s where all our focus lies now.

“We have been playing this system under the manager for a long time now and whatever player comes in knows the role and what they need to do.”